PERIODIC ALIMONY — SELF HELP NOT ALLOWED

A recent decision handed down by the Mississippi Supreme Court is a clear warning for any ex-spouse unilaterally deciding to reduce his court ordered periodic alimony payments due to financial hardship. The facts of the case are fairly straightforward. Leslie and Katarina Shumake divorced in February 2009. In the Divorce Judgment, the Chancellor ordered Leslie to pay $5,750 in periodic alimony. However, Leslie only paid $650.00 a week and at some point filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy.  Katarina was apparently not in agreement with this unilateral reduction and asked the Chancellor to hold Leslie in contempt. In response, Leslie claimed that he was unable to pay the full $5,750.00 a month and belatedly asked for a modification. After several hearings, the Chancellor declined to hold Leslie in contempt but concluded that Leslie owed Katarina $58,550 plus interest. On appeal the Mississippi Supreme Court stated that “[p]eriodic alimony is subject to modification; a party, however, may not modify on his own.” The Court went on to explain that periodic alimony vests on the date each payment becomes due.  Therefore, a court cannot give any relief from civil liability for any payments that have already accrued. As for the bankruptcy filing, the Mississippi Supreme Court stated that it was “without legal effect.”  So if you are under an order to pay periodic alimony, it is critical that you seek a modification order as soon as you realize that there is a problem making the required payments. To read the full opinion click here Leslie B. Shumake, Jr. v. Katarina Sitton...

ASSET PROTECTION AND THE USD

ASSET PROTECTION AND THE USD (Photo by Michael Daddino; https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/) Asset protection is not about investing. Rather it is about wealth preservation. Throughout history there are times one should be more concerned with the return of your money rather than the return on your money. The question today is whether we are approaching a period of time where it is prudent to focus more on preserving wealth rather than growing purchasing power. Recent news out of China from Bloomberg that more than 15 billion in gold back loans were falsified may be another warning sign. This is in addition to an ongoing investigation into fraudulent commodities financing transactions involving copper, iron ore and soybeans. There are also new challenges to the USD’s status as the world reserve currency. While the story is not being followed very closely by the U.S. media, more and more global transactions are bypassing the USD.  Buried deep in the WSJ several weeks ago was an interesting related article castigating U.S. monetary policy.  The article was by Lawrence Parks who is the executive director for the Foundation for the Advancement of Monetary Education. While we were not familiar with Mr. Parks or the organization, we were surprised to see this type of criticism in the WSJ: With neither debate nor anyone voting for it, the dollar has been transmogrified into an ethereal concept of money without any tie to the physical world, created of nothing, and forced into circulation with legal tender laws. As Australian comedian Michael Connell so brilliantly put it, what we used to call money has been transformed into ‘the idea of...